West Point Shootout: 5 Soldiers Guilty, Towship Commissioner to be Reassigned

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 The Government of Liberia over the weekend responded to two investigative reports from the August 20, 2014, incident in the Township of West Point resulting into the death of Shaki Kamara, and the wounding of Titus Nuah.

The first was received from the Joint Task Force Board of Inquiry established by the Ministry of Defense, which led to a guilty verdict and punishment of the Platoon Commander and four enlisted men of the AFL, by military tribunal, for their complicity, in the act. 

The second report is from the Independent Human Rights Commission (INHRC), which connected its findings to issues of poverty, justice and transforming the lives of people in all slum communities such as West Point.

The separate reports were received by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in September and October respectively.  However, upon the presentation of the first report, the President instructed the AFL’s Chief of Staff to take the appropriate measures in identifying and investigating those personnel of the AFL who were responsible in conformity with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

The latest findings from the Disciplinary Board of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has brought down guilty the Platoon Commander and four enlisted men of the AFL for their complicity in the West Point shooting incident.

 The Board’s report concluded that the Platoon Commander and the four enlisted personnel were guilty of “indiscretion and exhibited indiscipline” on August 20, 2014, in the Township of West Point.

Accordingly, Lieutenant Aloysious Quaye, Platoon Commander, was held responsible for “poorly assessing the situation and acting contrary to the behavior expected of a military leader in the reformed AFL.”

 As a leader in a situation of crisis, he was “expected to show efficient command after serving in the AFL for over five years” with training locally and in foreign parts. He should have been able to handle simple crowd control and dispersal. As a military leader, he did not follow proper military procedures in selecting personnel to fire warning shots. Although no evidence was adduced that any of the personnel of the AFL fired the shot that eventually killed Shaki Kamara, the Disciplinary Board thought it absolutely necessary to institute punishment for behavior unbecoming of a serving personnel of the AFL.

As such, Lt. Quaye is found guilty of “violating Article 133 of the UCMJ” regarding the unbecoming conduct of an officer or gentleman; guilty of Article 92-C of the UCMJ regarding dereliction (negligence) in the performance of duty.

Meanwhile, the punishment prescribed under the UCMJ includes: reduction in rank to the lowest rank permissible under the category of the accused; that he will lose two years of seniority with consequential effects; that he undergo 30 days correctional custody; that he be subjected to 30 days detention; that he forfeit 2/3 salary for three months; and letter of “Severe Reprimand” is served him.

  Additionally, the other four soldiers were found guilty of various offences of the UCMJ. Corporal Mulbah Timothy was found in Violation of Article 128 of the UCMJ regarding assault and arbitrary use of force; Corporal Flomo Anthony, Violation of Article 128 of the UCMJ regarding assault and arbitrary use of force as well as Article 134 regarding threat in communicating; Corporal Toure Patrick, Violation of Article 107 of the UCMJ regarding making false statements; and Private First Class (PFC) Salebia Moses, Violation of Article 107 of the UMCJ regarding making false statement.

Their prescribed punishments include: reduction in rank to the next lower rank; 30 days correctional custody; 30 days detention; and individual letters of “Severe Reprimand.”

Meanwhile, the Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) and President Sirleaf, has directed that all punishments be carried out in compliance with the relevant provisions and practices of the UCMJ.

The second report from the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), insisted that the victims of the West Point shooting incident be compensated and helped to get back on their feet; that government improve the living conditions of its citizens living in West Point and other slum communities; and that the Commissioner of West Point, H. Miatta Flowers, be reassigned. 

In response, the Government of Liberia indicated that most of its interventions so far since the incident have reflected the INCHR’s recommendations, especially with regard to ongoing efforts to cater to the victims of the shooting.  In general, however, GOL opines that “all slum communities should be rebuilt and developed with emphasis on the transformation of the lives of all citizens. This objective is part of the government’s agenda for change and is incorporated in its development agenda.”  GOL also said it has instructed the Ministry of Internal affairs “to take appropriate measures to reassign” the West Point Commissioner.

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